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Ascendium Funds New Initiative to Improve Prison Education System

Using $5 million in funding, Ascendium Education Group will launch a new initiative focused on developing more postsecondary education opportunities within the prison system.

Amy KerwinAmy Kerwin

Under the program, “Optimizing Delivery Systems for Higher Education in Prison: Postsecondary Pathways for Re-Entry Transition,” three sites were given a one-year $150,000 planning grant. There will also be $800,000 of additional funding awarded to successful planning sites, according to Ascendium.

The Iowa Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Corrections and City University of New York’s Institute for State and Local Governance were the chosen sites. Each site partners with local colleges or correctional facilities in order to support the expansion of postsecondary education offerings within the prison system as well as eliminate access gaps.

“The goal of the initiative is systems change, said Amy Kerwin, vice president of education philanthropy at Ascendium, in a statement. “That’s why collaboration between state corrections departments, individual facilities and postsecondary providers was a key eligibility requirement for grant applicants. We believe that refining systems and institutional policies and practices to better meet students’ needs could ultimately lead to increased access, higher credential completion rates, smoother college transfers and more meaningful employment opportunities on reentry into the community.”

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